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Look after your folders and they’ll look after you — use these tips to get a head start!

Anyone who uses a computer will likely have to use folders on a daily basis. They’re meant to keep the many files we store on our systems 5 Simple Ways to Save Money on New Hard Drives 5 Simple Ways to Save Money on New Hard Drives We’ve already covered all the things you need to consider to buy the right hard drive. Now it's about saving as much money as you can. Read More organized, but they can only accomplish that task if they’re used properly.

That puts some pressure on the user — but it’s much easier to keep your folders in order if you’re aware of some tips and tricks to help facilitate the process. Coupled with some useful software utilities and tools, you’ll soon have complete control over your folder hierarchy and all the files neatly placed inside it.

1. Change the Location of User Folders

The easiest way to move a folder from one location to another is a simple drag-and-drop. However, a slip of the hand 7 Disastrous Mouse Click Mistakes You Don't Want to Make 7 Disastrous Mouse Click Mistakes You Don't Want to Make Put into the wrong hands, the mouse could turn into a destructive tool. We show you which mouse routines you might take for granted and how they throw off less experienced users. Read More could leave your important files hidden away somewhere unintended.

Folders related to your Windows user account 5 Tips for Managing Windows User Accounts Like a Pro 5 Tips for Managing Windows User Accounts Like a Pro Windows user accounts have evolved from isolated local accounts to online accounts with various privacy challenges. We help you sort out your accounts and find the settings that work for you. Read More , like (My) Pictures or (My) Videos, present an even bigger problem. These folders can’t be moved manually; if you removed them, Windows would just recreate them. You have to set a new destination and let the system move these folders.

To do so, right-click the folder you want to move and click Properties, then head to the Location tab. Choose the new home for your files by using the Move… button to select a file path, and then click OK to make sure your changes have been saved.

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move folder

This simple and straightforward way of moving a folder from one location to another is only available for standard folders within your user folder. Moving around system folders flippantly can cause serious disruptions on your computer. Consider what you’re doing before you rearrange things too much, and always keep a handle on what you’ve put where.

2. Know Your Shortcuts

A good grasp of shortcuts Windows Shortcuts 101 - The Ultimate Keyboard Shortcut Guide Windows Shortcuts 101 - The Ultimate Keyboard Shortcut Guide With so many shortcuts built into Windows and its software, it might seem impossible to learn them all. Here's the ultimate guide to the most useful keyboard shortcuts. Read More will make any task go a little quicker. That’s particularly true when you’re working with folders. Commit these combinations to memory, and you’ll find that they shave a few seconds off your efforts on a regular basis.

If you’re in an Explorer window and want to access the address bar, press ALT + D — this will typically work in your browser, too. If you’re looking to rename a particular folder (or any other file), click on it once and press F2.

Are there folders you use all the time? You can set up a keyboard shortcut purely to open it up. First, find the folder, right-click it, and select Create shortcut. Next, find that shortcut on your Desktop.

shorcut properties

Right-click the shortcut, select Properties, and head to the Shortcut tab on the resulting window. Click on the field titled Shortcut key, and you can choose whatever combination of keys you’d like to have in place to immediately open up the folder at a second’s notice.

3. Keep Your Folders Secret

For all the many features on offer in Windows 10 7 Best & Worst Windows 10 Features 7 Best & Worst Windows 10 Features Was Windows XP your favorite operating system, too? Windows 8 made me switch to OS X. Windows 10 has been my homecoming and while some features are convincing, others still need work. Find out where... Read More , Microsoft’s flagship operating system still doesn’t offer a simple way to password protect a folder effectively. Thankfully, plenty of third party tools provide that functionality, like the excellent (and free) SecretFolder.

secret folder

SecretFolder works by restricting access to your specified folders — they won’t be visible in Windows File Explorer once you’ve added them to your list. Since the tool is password-protected, only you will be able to open it and remove entries from this list, making them accessible once again. If there are folders on your computer that you’d rather keep away from prying eyes, SecretFolder is an ideal solution.

4. Clamp Down on Empty Folders

There’s no reason for an empty folder to linger around; while it might not take up much storage space, it makes it more difficult for you to look through useful folders at a glance. Empty Folder Finder is a small, portable utility that makes getting rid of these empty folders a breeze.

empty folder finder

Download and run the tool, browse for a Path to Check, set your criteria for the file and folders that are to be found, and hit Go!. Pruning your collection of folders is a big step toward keeping your file hierarchy neat and tidy.

5. Make Your Downloads Folder More Responsive

Ever opened your Downloads folder Get a Free Download Manager to Speed Up Your Downloads Get a Free Download Manager to Speed Up Your Downloads Your browser doesn't do a good job of managing large downloads. If you're fed up with slow download speeds and crashes, try a download manager. We recommend 9 free tools to manage your downloads. Read More to find that it loads at a snail’s pace? It’s a problem that plagues many Windows users, and the best way to fix it is by keeping your downloaded files neatly arranged with sub-folders — however, there’s a quick fix that will do the job if you’re looking for something more immediate.

Right-click the Downloads folder and select Properties. Navigate to the Customize tab and use the dropdown menu titled Optimise this folder for to select General Items.

general items

By default, this option is set to Picture, which can slow things up if your Download folder is actually filled with different types of files. Windows will sometimes change this option back automatically, so if things slow down again, you might need to repeat the procedure.

6. Access Advanced Folder Commands

Right-clicking a folder gives you access to a series of commands to open, share, or and files, or access the folder’s properties. Did you know that holding Shift while you right-click brings up some more advanced commands?

advanced commands

Open in new process and Open command window are non standard comments — there’s also the option to Copy as path further down the list. These functions are targeted towards expert users and not something you will need access to on a regular basis, but now you know.

7. Re-open a Recently Closed Folder

It’s frustrating when you close a window without meaning to — but at least when it happens in your web browser, you can use a keyboard shortcut like CTRL + SHIFT + T to bring a closed tab back. There’s no such shortcut for File Explorer, but you can gain access to very similar functionality with a piece of free software called UndoClose.

UndoClose is a portable program The Best Portable Apps The Best Portable Apps Portable apps are light software versions that can be run from a USB drive without being installed on the host computer. We have selected the best ones for a number of tasks. Read More , that runs directly from your desktop or a USB stick. However, it does require the Microsoft .NET Framework 2.0, so make sure that you have that installed before trying to use it.

Download UndoClose and extract the .zip file. Open UndoClose.exe and you should find that an icon appears in your System Tray.

undoclose

Click on that button, and you’ll be able to set up a keyboard shortcut to quickly re-open the last folder window that was closed — you can do the same for the last app you closed, too. You’ll also be given access to a list of recently closed folders in case there’s more than one that you need to access again.

8. Enable Windows God Mode

Want easy access to some of the most useful troubleshooting resources for Windows in one easy location? You should take a few seconds to make a “God Mode” folder How to Enable God Mode in Windows 7, 8.1, and 10 How to Enable God Mode in Windows 7, 8.1, and 10 Windows has a hidden shortcut to view all system settings at once. Here's how to easily get to God Mode. Read More .

Named for the common video game cheat code 7 Most Useful Video Game Cheats Ever 7 Most Useful Video Game Cheats Ever At one time, single player games were shipped with hidden cheat codes that could be used to unlock an array of nifty powers and shortcuts. Remember those days? Read More , this otherwise unassuming folder will fast-track any troubleshooting you might need to accomplish on your PC. To create it, make a new folder somewhere sensible and name it GodMode.{ED7BA470-8E54-465E-825C-99712043E01C} — you can sub out “GodMode” for whatever name you think is appropriate.

god mode

You’ll be presented with a folder filled with links to a bevy of Control Panel functionality Unlock Windows Potential: Control Panel Demystified Unlock Windows Potential: Control Panel Demystified If you want to be the master of your Windows experience, the Control Panel is where it's at. We untangle the complexity of this power tool. Read More and more, all assembled in one easy place. If you’re the sort of person who’s often asked for help fixing other people’s systems, you’ll definitely want to be able to create a “God Mode” folder to speed up the process.

Do you have a tip on working with folders in Windows? Are you struggling with a particular problem and looking for assistance? Join the conversation in the comments section below!

  1. ernest
    April 17, 2016 at 6:03 pm

    GodMode is a good alternative, another easy way is.....
    Open control panel and on the search box just type any
    letter from A to Z and it shows everything related to windows.

  2. Fik of borg
    February 6, 2016 at 12:44 pm

    #2, the shortcut key one, would be extremely useful (most people work in half a dozen folders which get opened and closed through the day), but it seems to only work if the shortcut resides in the desktop. One would end up with a (more) cluttered desktop, and having the shortcut icon right there kind of makes the shortcut hotkey redundant.
    Someone knows a way to make this work with the shortcuts somewhere else?

    • Gordon Hay
      February 6, 2016 at 2:05 pm

      Navigate to C:\Users\\AppData\Roaming\Microsoft\Windows\Start Menu
      and create a new folder (Ctrl+Shift+N) here then name it " _hotkeys" (without quotes). Drag any shortcuts you create here and set the hotkey combination as detailed above.
      (If you intend to use the default Ctrl+Alt+ format you only need to click into the Shortcut Key field and press the desired key, the rest is inserted automatically)

      • Gordon Hay
        February 6, 2016 at 2:07 pm

        That path in full - C:\Users\username\AppData\Roaming\Microsoft\Windows\Start Menu

      • Fik of borg
        February 6, 2016 at 2:22 pm

        Hey, thanks! That´s what one gets when one end a complain with a question: a useful answer!
        Will try when I get back home (but naming my folder "{Hotkeys}" or something, so it is at the end of the start menu)

        • Gordon Hay
          February 9, 2016 at 3:04 pm

          It won't work if you use that name for the folder (I checked), as far as I know it has to be "_hotkeys" - and anyway, there is only one other sub-folder ("Programs") and no files in the Users\...\AppData\...\...\...\Start Menu location.

          Bear in mind that this is the user-specific (AppData\Roaming\...) start menu and not the system (C:\Program Data\...) one.

        • Fik of borg
          February 9, 2016 at 3:59 pm

          “_hotkeys”? But mine is working in C:\Users\FikOfBorg\AppData\Roaming\Microsoft\Windows\Start Menu\Programs\{Hotkey shortcuts}.

          Not only that, it still works with that "{Hotkey shortcuts}" folder marked as hidden (I had to hide it since Windows does not seem to care if the ASCII of "{" comes after all other standard characters, and annoyingly shows thad folder at the beginning of my All apps menu under "&").

          Come to think of it, if this work with the folder hidden, it should also work placing the folder right on the desktop for ease of access and hide it so it is not a(nother) eyesore. Just tried before posting: it works. Named the one on the desktop "Accesos" (shortcuts in spanish), hid it (it dissappeared), and the new hotkey works.

        • Gordon Hay
          February 9, 2016 at 4:38 pm

          Thanks for the update. I've only ever created the hotkey folder as a sub-folder of that appdata start menu folder as it was my understanding that it would only work from there or the desktop and only with that name. Always good to learn new/different ways of doing things though.

        • Fik of borg
          February 9, 2016 at 4:48 pm

          Thanks to you for the original idea...!
          Later I will try to use symlinks for the hotkeyed shortcuts to keep them synced across machines usin Dropbox.

  3. nolongerapple
    February 5, 2016 at 10:45 pm

    5. Make Your Downloads Folder More Responsive

    This really helped me. Thanks!

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